Learning how to DJ at Scratch DJ Academy

Photos: Jennifer Logue

I’m the kind of person that likes to try new things. Sure, I’ve been playing music for most of my life, but there’s always something different to learn, whether it’s a new instrument, a new DAW or my recent interest in the art of DJing.

The thing with learning a musical instrument is that it’s relatively easy to find a teacher for the more standard stuff — piano, guitar, voice, flute, ukulele — but when it comes to DJing, it’s way tougher. Before schools like Scratch DJ Academy came along, I don’t think there was really an option for aspiring DJ’s. To learn the craft, you were pretty much on your own.

Scratch DJ Academy

The beauty about Scratch is that they give you hands-on training and structure in your journey. I signed up for DJ 101, a six-week course that taught me the basic features of pro DJ gear, music theory fundamentals as it applies to DJing, mixing, beat matching, calculating BPM and of course, scratching.

DJ Mike Nyce was my instructor and the setting was intimate — about five students total in the class. We got homework each week and had ample time to use the turntables at Scratch during designated practice times, in case we didn’t have equipment at home. He made sure everything was explained clearly and gave lots of individualized attention to each of the students.

DJ Mike Nyce
Overall, the course taught me a few things aside from the curriculum. For one, it was a reminder that practice makes perfect. With my schedule, it was hard for me to squeeze in practice during the specified time slots. If you sign up, I recommend considering getting a small setup at home or at least make sure you’re able to commit to practice a few days a week. It is vital in solidifying what you’re learning. The practice part is just as important as the class.

Lastly, it also gave me an appreciation for the art of scratching. It’s something I never really paid attention to before. The pros make it look easy but try doing it yourself. It’s like playing an instrument and some DJs, like DJ Jazzy Jeff for instance, are absolute scratching beasts. You can spend hours watching these guys on YouTube. It will blow your mind.

If you’re a musician or music fan that wants to share your passion for music in a new way, I suggest giving DJ 101 a whirl. You won’t become a master in six-weeks but you will build a strong foundation to get you started. No matter who you are or what your age, if you’re curious — just do it!

For more information, visit: scratchdjacademy.com

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